Dec 242017
 

The Dark Knight might just be the closest to superhero movie perfection as they come and although it might be mostly remembered for Heath Ledger’s amazing performance which garnered him an Oscar posthumously, the script is expertly written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan.

 

 

The Dark Knight
(2008)

Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Thriller
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 152 min. – $41.99 | December 19, 2017

Date Published: 12/24/2017 | Author: The Movieman

 


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Writer(s): Bob Kane (characters); Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer (story), Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan (screenplay)
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman
DISC INFO:
Features: Featurettes, Galleries, TV Spots, Theatrical Trailers
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 2160p/Widescreen 2.40, 1.78 (IMAX Scenes)
Dynamic Range: HDR10
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265 (4K)
Region(s): A, B, C

 


THE MOVIE — 4.5/5


Note: Portions of this movie review is taken from my theatrical and Blu-ray reviews.

Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to 2005’s Batman Begins, which reboot a franchise struggling after the abysmal Batman & Robin, The Dark Knight is a complex but highly entertaining that resembles a crime drama rather than a “superhero movie”. And quite frankly, it is perfectly fitting for a character like Batman. He never has been, nor will ever be, a Superman, Spider-Man or one of the X-Men. He has no powers and must use pure brawn and, especially, brains to win a fight. Obviously he relies on nifty gadgets but unlike his DC Comics counterpart, Superman, he has one huge weakness: mortality.

What I think I enjoyed the most about Nolan’s and Ledger’s interpretation of The Joker was that they gave him a background… without actually giving him one. A scene between The Joker and Gamble (Michael Jai White), one of Gotham’s mob bosses, The Joker tells the story of his childhood. He had an abusive and alcoholic father who, in a night of drunkenness, gave him the scars around his mouth. Yet later in the movie after he crashes a part at Bruce Wayne’s penthouse, he tells another story. Which is true? Is either of them real? I doubt The Joker really knows the only commonality is that he has father issues.

Ok, I must be upfront now. On the Internet I watch as fanboys of Spider-Man or X-Men watch in glee as “their guy” gets mucho dollars at the box office and critical acclaim (at the same time), and while Batman Begins certainly went a long way to patching relations with the fans and general public alike, people were still skeptical. Also, Begins still had its fair share of problems, most of which were corrected this go around: 1) upgrading from Katie Holmes to Maggie Gyllenhaal and 2) sharper dialog — I respect Goyer, but some of that writing was pretty bad at times.

First, Heath Ledger… the hype is real. Ledger disappears into The Joker in a way Jack Nicholson could never do. The character he and the Nolan Brothers (Chris and Jonah) created was spot on to how I always envisioned him from the comic books. He’s cold hearted, somewhat calculating and utterly brutal. He takes pleasure in besting Batman even if it means getting captured. Here, his goal is to get Batman to break his one rule and boy does Bats ever come close. That’s all Ledger. He doesn’t steal every scene, it’s more that he grabs you by the throat and never releases. This is truly an Oscar worthy performance, folks, and no doubt about it. Ledger’s Joker is right up there with Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter and he at the very least deserves an Oscar nomination. This is the performance for the ages.

Unlike Batman ’89, while Ledger truly is a big reason to see this film, the ensemble really work very well together. Christian Bale as (public) Bruce Wayne plays it perfectly as a rich playboy who seemingly could care less about Wayne Enterprises while the real Bruce entrenches into deep thought about his role as Batman. And then, of course, as The Caped Crusader, he keeps that raspy voice that so many either loved or hated. Me? I more leaned toward tolerance with prejudice.

And though this movie is like a WWE event with Batman and The Joker in the ring, the supporting cast that Nolan put together pays dividends. Obviously Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon was spot on casting and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox was inspired casting and a good way to add some class to a franchise that lost it all before, but it is Aaron Eckhart who also shines as Harvey Dent. You really believe he is a man who believes in Gotham City and that he can take it to a better place. And even though The Joker gets the bulk of attention, this is Harvey’s story and it plays out like a Greek tragedy.

Taking my Batman fan boy hat off (figuratively… really… seriously, I’m not wearing a Batman hat…); I did have an issue with a couple of things (warning, very minor spoilers):

  1. The film did feel a tad long. Clocking in at over two and a half hours, The Dark Knight has so much plot that I think a couple of things could’ve been cut. This is not to say these scenes weren’t good, but I think after the two hour mark, it lost some of its focus.
  2. Speaking of focus, I do think at a certain point, with a certain transformation, it just felt like two different movies. I don’t know if it was on purpose or if, because of Heath Ledger’s death, Nolan and company had to rework some things meant for the third movie…
  3. [MINOR SPOILER] – This is more technical, but there were moments when James Newton Howard’s and Hans Zimmer’s score was too dang loud, drowning out important dialog at the end. It took some ear straining to make out what was being said. It’s a shame, because the montage at the end was pretty cool.
  4. Although Maggie Gyllenhaal was certainly an upgrade over Katie Holmes, I still didn’t really care for the character. It’s not that she wasn’t likeable, but as a character she failed to impress me. I liked how the love triangle dynamic played out between Bruce, Rachel and Harvey (far more well done than in Spider-Man 3, well, which goes for just about everything else), and the character is very important to the story, but if it had been done right in Batman Begins, maybe it would’ve been held over to TDK.

Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have given fans as perfect of a Batman movie as possible. Although it is not a flawless movie, The Dark Knight is a near masterpiece of crime-drama that reinvents how we see superhero movies. If any franchise could pull this off, with a rising genius behind the camera, it’s Batman. He’s not Superman or Spider-Man. He has no powers and fights in a gritty city who pretty much loathes him. In The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne discovers that he needs Batman as much as Gotham needs Batman. There’s a certain sadness to it that never was examined in previous entries. This film adds so much depth to the character but without being obvious about it. I only wonder how the Nolan Brothers are going to top this…

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.25/5


This release comes with a shiny (glossy) slip cover and inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy. All of the features are contained on the Blu-ray bonus disc which has been ported over from the previous Blu-ray release.

On the first disc is Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene (64:10). This is a fantastic look into individual scenes from the prologue to the chase sequence to Batman’s high tower jump in Hong Kong. There are also segments on the new Batsuit and the development of the Batpod. But because this is the only feature truly pertaining to The Dark Knight, I wish Warner had included more featurettes, especially one’s with more input from the cast.

Batman Tech (46:00; HD) is an interesting featurette that I actually already saw a few months ago even before the release of The Dark Knight on, IIRC, A&E. This goes over all the gadgets and vehicles Batman has used not only in the movies but the comic books and how some of it was based on real science.

Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight (HD) – This is another featurette that actually was on TV before or around the same time as the release of the film. It features interviews with various members from DC Comics, the TDK production or scholars breaking down the psychology of not only Bruce Wayne’s and how the death of his parents but his rogues as well.

Gotham Tonight (46:41) – This was a cool mock news cast starring Anthony Michael Hall as his TDK character, Mike Engel. In these 6 short news segments, Engel interviews the likes of Salvatore Maroni (Eric Roberts) and even Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) with minor footage of Wayne and Gordon.

The Galleries features “Joker Cards”, “Concept Art”, “Poster Art” (5/5) and “Production Stills”. These are all very cool for the Batman fan, getting to see all the pics we’ve come to love in anticipation for the film.

Last and definitely NOT least are 3 theatrical trailers and all 6 TV spots. The amazing assortment of trailers are an absolute blast to watch and each are great as they do provide those alternate lines that we’d hope Nolan would put on the DVD but we know never will.

 


VIDEO – 4.5/5


The Dark Knight charges onto 4K presented in the film’s original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio (1.78 for the IMAX scenes) and a 2160p high-definition transfer (HEVC/H.265) and although it’s a step above the Batman Begins 4K release, I don’t think it’s a significant improvement over its Blu-ray counterpart. Still, detail is pretty good, colors are bright especially on display during the opening sequence where the HDR really shines. As with Batman Begins, dark levels are deep yet still detail is discernible.

AUDIO – 4.75/5


Although this did not get the Atmos treatment since per the back cover this is the “Original Theatrical Audio Mix”, instead there is a strong and rather impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Dialogue levels come through the center channel with nice clarity but where this really comes to life are during the action scenes from the Batman/police chase to the hospital explosion, there is excellent depth on display here.

 


OVERALL – 4.5/5


Overall, The Dark Knight might just be the closest to superhero movie perfection as they come and although it might be mostly remembered for Heath Ledger’s amazing performance which garnered him an Oscar posthumously, the script is expertly written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan. This 4K release offers up great video/audio transfers and a good selection of bonus features.

 

 

 

 

Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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